Skip to main content

Full text of "An interesting lecture delivered before the Negro Historical Society of Philadelphia"

See other formats


AN INTERESTING LECTURE 
Delivered Before the 

NEGRO HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

of Philadelphia 
THURSDAY EVENING, JAN. 9TH, 19 12 

By 




MRS. LELA WALKER BRYAN 



THE STATUS OF AMERICAN NEGRO CITIZENSHIP. 

Mr. President, Members of the Negro Historical Society of Philadelphia, 
Ladies and Gentlemen: Perhaps few other subjects of recent times have been 
productive of such varied discussion as the status of the American Negro in 
the social, economic and political relations of our government. In order 
that we may intelligently discuss his status it is necessary that we compre- 
hend the full meaning of American citizenship in contradistinction to that enjoy- 
ed by people of other countries. To do this, it becomes our purpose to first as- 
certain the several forms of government and discuss the status of citizenship 
relative thereto. 

There are three principal forms of government existing among civilized peo- 
ples. Monarchial, Democratic and Republican. There may be modifications of 
one or more of these forms or a modification of any one of them. Broadly 
speaking these forms are either Monarchial or Democratic in character or a 
fusion of the two. A Monarchial form of government is one wherein supreme 
autocratic power is vested in the ruler. A limited or constitutional Monarchial 
form is a government in which the sovereign is restrained by a constitution and 
( stablished laws. A Democratic form of government is one in which the ruling 
power is exercised directly by the people. While Republican is a delegation of 
that power by the whole body of the people to their several representatives for 
proper exercise. Under a genuine Republican form of government there are no 
distinctions of birth or otherwise, and citizenship attains its highest degree of 
perfection. While under the unlimited Monarchial form, the status of citizen- 
ship in the participation of the government is well nigh hopeless. 

In China, where the government is an unlimited Monarchy of the most des- 
potic kind, six centuries of struggle on the part of the people for popular rights 
have now brought the masses to that point where they can look forward to share 
in the government. For this reason, at this very moment, China is passing 
through the throes of a great civil war, to determine whether representative gov- 
ernment shall have a new birth in thatkingdom. 

India, with her millions of subjects, until 1858. when she became a protec- 
torate of Great Britain, was not only an unlimited Monarchy, but was also 
influenced, even dominated, by a religious system recognizing distinctions of 
caste that made hopeless the condition of the masses. Not only was it impossi- 
ble for the subjects to look forward to, or attain the cherished hope of equality, 
which is the cardinal principle of true democracy, but according to their creed 
they could not, within a million rebirths, pass from the lower to the higher caste 
forming the social order of that country. 

In Russia, where the government is of the most unyielding autocratic kind, 
1 he people, after years of repeated insurrections, assassinations and exilements, 
have succeeded in accomplishing the abolition of serfdom throughout the Em- 
pire. They have finally won a partial victory for representative government 
in exacting from the throne a limited parliament in keeping with the promised 
recognition of their political status. Notwithstanding these centuries of persis- 
tent effort on the part of the people for economic, social and political better- 
ment, the condition of the masses in Russia today is far worse than that of the 
American Negro before or since the Civil War. Though the Russian peasant 
was freed in 1861, his rights and privileges as a freeman are still curtailed. 

I 



Onwership of land is so bound up In entails that it is impossible for him to pur- 
chase. Mis educational opportunities arc also denied. A movement was made 
to open schools for the former selfs after the abolition of slavery, but was; 
stepped by the government. The complete failure of Russia to compete in arms 
with Japan in her recent war was attributed to lack of patriotism on the part 
of the people due largely to the failure of Nicholas to keep faith with them in 
his repeated promises of granting them constitutional reforms. 

The superior social, economic and political advantages enjoyed by the Gor- 
man masses over those of India, China and Russia, are due largely to the geo- 
graphical location of the German Empire— being surrounded and influenced by 
the progressive nations, England and France. The change of the German Gov- 
ernment from that of an unlimited to a limited Monarchy was accomplished 
only after centuries of struggle on the part of the people. While the Germ in 
subject of today is among the most cultured and highly proficient in mechani- 
cal art. he is still denied a fair representation in the affairs of his govern- 
ment. Although the lower House or Reichstag is representative, this body 
can neither originate nor propose any law affecting the realm; its only func- 
tion being to assent to or concur in the deliberations of the upper body. The 
disappointment and dissatisfaction occasioned by this empty form of repre- 
sentation granted by the Emperor has in the past decade contributed more 
than any other cause towards the spread of the Socialistic propaganda which 
is threatening the very existence of the Empire itself. 

Although the government of Great Britain today is that of a limited con- 
stitutional Monarchy, wherein the administrative powers of the King are even 
less than those of our own President, yet, the successive degrees of changes from 
despotism were the result of hundreds of years of bitter struggle by the masses. 
To understand what these struggles were and what the people really accomplish 
ed would be to know the stirring events 4n their national life dating back, at 
least, to the Norman Conquest of 1066. This conquest effected a complete erad- 
ication of the national life then existing by the introduction of a system of so- 
cial caste and land tenure which exists largely to this very day. The King, 
in order to repay his chiefs for military services rendered, granted them im- 
mense tracts of land which he had taken from the conquered Britons. In do- 
ing this lie made possible the growth of a landed aristocracy, which has exclud- 
ed the masses for all time from ownership of the soil. From such began the 
present tremendous Imperial System of Great Britain, which, through its rami- 
fications, resembles that of ancient Rom Q under the Caesars, a small class of 
great families dominating first their own order and through it England. And 
controlling social England rule Parliament. Through this Parliament they 
govern allied kingdoms, principalities and empires. For more than five hun- 
dred years a constant struggle went on in the Anglo-Saxon race between the 
idea of absolute kingship and that of popular participation in political power. 
Starting by d°manding and securing the head of King John for his failure to ob- 
serve the limitations of Ins prerogatives, it effected in rapid succession radical 
changes in the established order of accession by electing not only a Protector. 
but by placing on the throne foreign princes to rule over them. They secured 
their Magna Chart a— the birthright of human liberties— only after England 
had been shaken from center to circumference with the direful calamities of in- 
ternal revolution. After the terrible French Revolution had spent its fury and 
despotism th° world over was trembling with fear, the English masses, availing 
themselves of this opportunity, demanded and secured from the crown genuine 
and lasting constitutional reforms. They secured reforms not only in the en- 
franchisement of the people throughout the kingdom, but. a granting of real 



representative government. Tliis concession 'if popular representation has ex- 
isted only since 1832. Until then, the trading, manufacturing and laboring 
classes exercised no voice whatever in the political affairs of the nation. The 
enfranchisement of the British masses and their participation in the electorate 

have not won for them their full and complete status in the government, for 
while they elect the members of the House of Commons, this body does not 
share with the upper body of Lords in deliberations of the nation or of the 
prerogatives of the King. And the question which is agitating most the British 
minds today is how to maintain the ascendency of the House of Lords oyer 
the House of Commons without an increase in the number of peers for the 
upper branch. "What the masses throughout Christendom have thus far accom- 
plished towards representative government, leads us to hope that the time is nol 
far distant when the general popular unrest will have 1 crystallized into an irre- 
sistible universal demand for human rights. Whether the securing of those 
rights is possible under the several forms of government already discussed, is 
best judged by the centuries of struggle which leave the respective masses, 
politically speaking, a little better off than where they started. Whatever prog- 
ress has been made either in a political, social or economic way, the results ob- 
tained have been in proportion to the political recognition demanded. If the 
government has been one of absolute despotism, the progress of the people has 
been slow, while on the other hand, if the government has tended towards the 
highest degree of a constitutional and limited monarchial kind, the effect of 
same has keen reflected through all phases of the life of the people. 

It seems then, in the final analysis, that in order to secure the greatest bless- 
ings to a people, that government under which they live must be of such a 
character as to insure them the fullest participation therein. No government 
seems to afford this right save that of a Democratic or Republican form which 
our own country typifies in the highest degree. And it is this inherent right 
of sovereignty in the individual American freeman that distinguishes his status 
of citizenship from that of any other country. 

It was the good fortune and wisdom of the American statesmen, after 
profiting by the failures of the several monarchical forms of government, to he 
the first in history to conceive and formulate a scheme of government repre- 
sentative of true democracy wherein the source of power Avas to be vested in 
the common people. The fundamental and basic principle upon which the super- 
structure of this government rests is the equality of all men. The foremost 
thought which prompted the men who framed the Constitution of the United 
States was to begin at once to make the people their own rulers by giving them 
k> a more perfect form of government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquil- 
ity, provide for a common defence, promote 1 the general welfare and secure the 
blessings of liberty" to themselves and their posterity. Every citizen, rich Or 
poor, was to be the political equal of another. 

This leads us to ask what constitutes a citizen and what is meant by citi- 
zenship in this democratic form of government? Webster defines a citizen as 
*'any person born or naturalized, who is entitled to full protection in the exer- 
cise and enjoyment of the so-called private ;ghts." Citizenship is defined as 
"the state of being vested with the rights and privileges of a citizen.*' Ac- 
cording to the foregoing definitions, one clearly sees how after centuries of 
struggle on the part of the masses of the countries discussed, they have not yet 
reached that point in governmental participation which secures to them that 
status of citizenship which is a right of every American freeman. And they 



never will reach that point unless the masses arise in their might, as in the 
French Revolution, and destroy both branch and root of all Monarchial forms 
of government and substitute therefor a Republican form. 

Having shown how the American citizen, because of his Republican form 
of government, enjoys superior political, social and economic advantages im- 
possible of attainment under any other form of government, it now becomes 
the aim of this paper to discuss at length the American Negro and to show his 
status as a citizen in the body politic. Out of the wilderness of darkest Africa. 
without civilization and without Christianity, the Negro was brought to this 
country, and for two hundred and fifty years toiled under the limitations of 
slavery. Under white tutelage he became the most obedient, patient and useful 
servant ever known. During this period he owned nothing, as his labor and 
time were not his own, but while such enslavement divested him of whatever 
individuality and freedom he originally possessed it nevertheless trained him 
in the ways of civilization and gave to him a religion. Even though this en- 
slavement instilled within him many true and lofty principles of individual con- 
duct, it unfitted him politically for the grave responsibilities of citizenship which 
the subsequent stirring events of the latter part of the last century brought him. 

The underlying and fundamental principle upon which our government 
rests is the equality of man. The Constitution adopted in pursuance thereto 
precipitated a heated discussion relative to the condition and status which the 
American Negro should assume-. The f ramers, unable to harmonize the two de- 
grees of economic life — that of a slave and that of a freeman, in keeping with 
this principle of equality, then agreed, as a compromise, that the importation of 
African slaves into this country should cease after 1807. Notwithstanding 
that slavery lasted fully a half century thereafter, it was clearly apparent that 
two degrees of rights, one for a freeman and the other for a slave, were not 
in keeping with either the spirit or the letter of our democratic form of govern- 
ment and the Constitution. The perpetuation of this form of government mad ■ 
it imperative that slavery should be overthrown. This peculiar, indefensible 
and undefinable status of the Negro slave rendered the Constitution incomplete 
in itself and inconsistent before the world as vouchsafing the equality of man- 
kind. Because of this imperfection in the organic law there arose immediately 
(hose who would remedy this defect by ending slavery: and others who would 
destroy the very existence of the government and Constitution by the perpetua- 
tion of slavery. Around these two opposing sides flocked all the forces and 
counterforces in American life, and for a quarter of a century all political ac- 
tions wore influenced and shaped by this inevitable, impending and gigantic 
struggle which was finally to give to the nation a new birth of human liberties. 

Those of us who have read history and are familiar with the events preced- 
ing and leading up to our great Civil War, know that while slavery was the pri- 
mary cause of that war, the motives prompting the generous support for hu- 
man rights of the great statesmen of that age were not purely philanthropic, 
it is true that men like Garrison. Lovejoy, rhillips, Sumner and Brown were 
moved by earnest religious and sentimental feelings, in the dedication of their 
lives and fortunes to the Negro's cause. Other statesmen like Dana, Stephen 
A. Douglas and even our own Lincoln opposed the institution of slavery, not so 
much for the sake of freedom itself as to make possible a more perfect union of 
states, which slavery prevented. To quote the words of Lincoln, in effect, he 
says: "My paramount object in this war is to neither destroy nor save slavery, 
but to save the Union. If I could save the Union by freeing some of the 
slaves, I would do it. If I could save the Union by leaving slavery as it exists. 
I would do that. If I could save the Union by freeing all the slaves, I would 



do even that. My whole aim and object is the preservation of the Union. 
Notwithstanding the varying degrees of sentiment in the country towards slav- 
ery — ranging from that of the great altruism of Brown to that of the expedi- 
ency kind of Lincoln— the fact was, the country was soon plunged into the 
throes of a great Civil War wherein slavery was completely lost sight of in the 
great struggle to maintain the very existence of the Republic. Out of this great 
conflict, which cost the nation millions of men and billions of money, the Negro 
emerged a free man. And for the first time in the history of the world, a peo- 
ple secured their freedom with little cost to themselves and at great expense to 
their benefactors. 

Freedom was not all that was necessary to insure the Negro equal rights 
and full protection of the law. Nor had his freedom restored the Constitution 
to its original intendment of perfect equality. For the slave, though free, was 
still denied his rights of an untrammeled participator in the affairs of the gov- 
ernment. And this quasi political status, wherein the freedom had neither the 
protection of a slave nor the guarantee of a citizen, left him a prey to the new 
order of affairs growing out of the Avar. To meet the requirements incident to 
this changed order, it taxed the ripest statesmanship of that time to formu- 
late a plan of political reconstruction of the recent slave to effect his full and 
complete status in the government. Considering human nature and human his- 
tory together with the exciting times incident to the war. the readjustment of 
the political relations was considerate. The passage of the thirteenth four- 
teenth and fifteenth amendments to Hie Constitution in keeping with the 
change was the greatest feat of constructive statesmanship of modern times. In 
these three great amendments, the Negro received not only his freedom hut his 
rights of citizenship co-extensive with that of other citizens. The thirteenth 
amendment prohibits slavery or involuntary servitude within the jurisdiction 
of the United States except as punishment for crime. The fourteenth confers 
the right of citizenship upon all persons horn or naturalized in the United 
States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, and makes them also citizens 
of the States wherein they reside. "No State shall make or enforce any law which 
shall abridge the privilege's or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor 
shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due 
process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protec- 
tion of the laws." The fifteenth amendment confirms and strengthens the 
fourteenth in that it prohibits the Stales or the United States to deny or 
abridge the rights of any citizen to vote on account of race, color or previous 
condition of servitude. These three great war amendments, the thirteenth, 
abolishing slavery; the fourteenth, extending the rights of citizenship to all peo- 
ple, white or black, born or naturalized within the United States: and the fif- 
teenth which prohibits the United States or any State from denying or abridg- 
ing these rights of citizenship on account of race, color or previous condition of 
servitude, make the status of American Negro citizenship equal and co-exten- 
sive with that enjoyed by any other American citizen. If the status of citi- 
zenship in this country is superior by comparison to that of any other through- 
out the world, and the Negro's status is equal to and co-extenslve with that of 
the white man, how much more superior is the Negro in his enjoyment of po- 
litical rights than are the masses elsewhere. If it took centuries upon cen- 
turies for the people of the more favored governments just discussed to attain 
their limited degree of rights, how fortunate has been the Negro's lot in hav- 
ing attained with the least struggle on his part all the blessings possible in 
our democratic form of government. Theoretically speaking, the garb of citi- 
zenship in which the Negro is clothed was cut by the same pattern as that of 



the white man, and his failure to fill in to the full measurement of this gar- 
ment is due to the limitations over which he himself has the control. 

The Constitution having conferred upon the Negro and secured for him the 
rights and privileges guaranteed to any other citizen, his complete and full en- 
joyment of the same will be determined, not by the outward and externa) 
agencies of further constitutional enactments, but by his own regeneration out 
of the helplessness in which he still finds himself. In other words, the Negro 
must prove his right to share in the enjoyment of this civilization and show- 
to the world what he is capable of doing. The question now is, whether the Ne- 
gro is fulfilling the expectations of his friends in measuring up to that full sta- 
tus of manhood obtained for him under the Constitution, or whether he is 
disappointing them in his retrogression towards that state of moral and in- 
tellectual inferiority to which slavery consigned him. It is true apparently, he 
has not maintained that full participation in the electorate throughout the 
Southern States he enjoyed immediately after his enfranchisement. Nor is he 
sharing positions of governmental trust or emolument which came to him dur- 
ing that decade. His failure to maintain his political status in that section of 
the country is due to the abnormal condition or economic, social and politi- 
cal affairs occasioned by the great Civil War. That war supplanted civil au- 
thority with military authority, and made impotent the domination of the 
whites because of the disabilities placed upon them for their refusal to sub- 
scribe to the iron oath demanded by the Federal government for a restoration 
of their political rights. This political state of affairs, which gave to the re- 
cently enfranchised Negro the ascendency during that period of Reconstruction, 
although justifiable under the condition of treason and disloyalty to constituted 
authority existing at that time, was yet such, by substituting ignorance for 
intelligence, incompetency for competency, as to disorganize the whole social 
and political structure of the South and make inevitable the reaction which 
the Negro is undergoing today. 

The Negro's failure to maintain his political status when based upon abnor- 
mal conditions is no argument in justification of the charge made by his ene- 
mies that be is not making progress towards the consummation of that economic, 
social and political betterment which is necessary in this Republic to an enjoy- 
ment of his rights. Notwithstanding this political reaction in the exercise of 
his franchise in those States that have sought to curtail his participation in 
the ballot in violation of the spirit and letter of the Federal Constitution, the 
Negro is still making gome progress in States like North Carolina and Virginia 
in meeting these requirements of unjust discriminations. In North Carolina 
where the Constitutional amendment of 1898 disfranchised fully one hundred 
thousand out of the one hundred and twenty thousand Negro voters in that 
State, the last Presidential election showed that out of a polled Republican 
vote of one hundred and seventeen thousand, the Negro had contributed at least 
eighty thousand of that number, thus showing that he is surmounting these 
obstacles and qualifying under restrict ?d conditions at the rate of sixty thou- 
sand a decade. In Mississippi, where the same Constitutional amendments 
have been enacted, the results obtainel have been somewhat different. In- 
stead of having the effect of stimulating the Negro's desire for citizenship as 
in North Carolina, it has counteracted on the whites in their own indifference 
as shown by the same election. For oat of a white population of eight hun- 
dred thousand, less than fifty thousand citizens qualified and voted in that olee- 



fion. The result of this stagnation in the political life of Mississippi accounts 
for her being represented in highest legislative body of the land by a dema- 
gogue of the Vardaman stripe, and in South Carolina by a Tillman and a Blease 
Contrast this degree of statesmanship with that when the South was 
won't to send such men as Clay and Calhoun as representatives typical in brain, 
character and thought of the active political life of their day and generation. 
This illustrates the principle that the Negro's interest through all his history 
has been so bound up and interwoven with the forces and counterforces of 
American life that whatever affects him, either for good or for evil, affects 
and influences to the most minute and remote degree all the phases of that life. 
The material progress which the Negro has made within the last half cen- 
tury along educational, religious and economic lines is without parallel in the 
history of the world. Freed without a dollar, without the responsibilities of 
life and in ignorance he was thrown empty-handed into the midst 
of a civilization that, in many respects is representative of man's high 
est achievement. That he did not retrograde but was able to readjust him- 
self to the conditions of life which he found, is one of the unexplainable 
marvels of his racial adaptability. What he has accomplished in education has 
been phenomenal. Beginning only fifty years ago entirely ignorant, he has 
wiped out fully sixty per cent, of his illiteracy. And if we are to take the 
latest United States census report for our guidance, he has reduced in the 
p;ist decade from twelve to fifteen per cent, of his illiteracy in the States of 
Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee, while the white pop- 
ulation of those same States has been able to reduce its illiteracy only three to 
five per cent. This has been accomplished by the Negro notwithstanding the 
unjust discrimination practiced by the educational authorities of those States in 
their allotment to the Negro less than his proportionate share of the school 
funds. This discrimination against the Negro school in favor of the wdiite 
school has had the tendency not only to reduce the scholastic term for Negro 
children, but to give them an inferior and poorer grade of teachers in compari- 
son with those granted the whites. Such difficulties have stimulated the desire 
of the Negro to obtain an education, for he has in the schools throughout this 
country upwards of two million children who are being trained and taught by 
twenty-five thousand teachers and professors of his own race. As gratifying as 
has been his educational achievements since emancipation in comparison with 
flic Southern white's, his advance seems extraordinary when judged by what it 
took the people of Russia, Spain, Portugal and the several South and Central 
American countries centuries to accomplish. It is claimed that the per cent, 
of illiteracy among the American Negroes today is far less than in any of the 
above-named countries. The Negro therefore, having reduced his illiteracy fully 
two-thirds in the first half century of his freedom, is still reducing it at the 
rate of twelve per cent, each decade. This requires only a very simple process 
of mathematical calculation to show that before another half century illiteracy 
will be to him a thing of the past. This very rapid progress on his part in com- 
parison with what the Southern whites are doing in their reduction of only three 
and a half per cent, a decade from their own illiteracy of twelve per cent., 
leads us to believe that the impediments placed in the Negro's pathway are due 
to this unequal showing made in the Negro's favor. His four hundred musi- 
cians and teachers of music: his two thousand physicians and surgeons; his one 
thousand lawyers, and his three hundred dentists bear testimony to what he is 
accomplishing in the higher educational and professional life. He is also play- 
ing well his part in the theatrical world in his contribution to the list of authors 
of popular songs and plays. He has given to the world a Will Marion Cook, 



who has composed three light operas together with a number of popular sou 
gs; a Cole and a .Johnson who have written more than a hundred 
popular and successful songs; an Ernest Hogan, who made the transition from 
the old Negro minstrel to the more modern Negro comedian; a Williams and 
Walker, who, through their talent, placed the comedian on an elevated plane; a 
Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the greatest representative poet of the race. Of him 
William Dean Howells says, that he, more than any other Negro had gained 
for the race a permanent place in English literature; a Charles W. Chestnut, 
who is ranked as one of the best novelists of today: a Henry (). Tanner, who is 
regarded by many as one of the great Contemporary artists. His first picture. 
"Daniel In The Lion's Den," received honorable mention in the Paris Salon. 
The "Raising of Lazarus" was awarded a gold medal at the Salon and im- 
mediately purchased by the French Government for the Luxembourg Gallery, 
where it now hangs. His "Annunciation" was exhibited in the Pennsylvania 
Academy of Fine Arts and purchased for the famous Willstach collection in 
Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. His great painting "Nicodemus" was purchas- 
ed by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where it now hangs. "Christ 
and The Disciples at. Emmaus" is owned also by the French Government and 
hangs in the Luxembourg Gallery. In 1899 he finished "Judas." which was ex- 
hibited at the Carnegie Institute, in Pittsburgh^ and purchased for its collection. 
In recognition of these many contributions Pittsburgh voted him one of her 
twenty "immortals." A Ieroy Locke, who through his attainments in scholar- 
ship, settles for all times the capacity of the Negro's brain to receive, assimil- 
late and retain the highest degrees of knowledge possible. His A'ery high rat- 
ing made through the several grades of the Philadelphia High School enabled 
him to secure a free scholarship to Harvard College, where he further demon- 
strated his ability by finishing a four-year course in three years and graduating 
with honors unequalled since the days of Lowell. He further secured a free 
scholarship to Oxford, England, from a competitive examination wherein rep- 
resentative graduates from Pennsylvania's best institutions contended. 

What the Negro has done and is doing educationally he is doing in his re- 
ligious activities. Fully five million of his race in this country are either 
church communicants or under the influence of the Christian religion. His 
religious life and character are being moulded and fashioned by thirty-five thou- 
sand of his own ministers, representing every phase of polity in the Christian 
church. The inestimable benefit derived from this consecrated religious and 
moral effort is evident ed in the Negro's patience and obedience to long suffer- 
ings, in Ids subordination of the woes and injustice of this life to the perfect 
bliss of the life hereafter. "In laying u > treasures for that kingdom not built 
with lands but eternal in the skies," 'tis true, he neglected some of the very 
essentials of this life, but on the whole, his full and complete resignation to the 
life to come has detracted his mind from the sins that beset him and made the 
ills of this life endurable. So important a part does his religious training play 
in his general uplift that a tenth of his wealth is represented in church proper- 
ties and other charitable holdings representing a valuation of sixty million 
dollars. More than a million and a half of his children are reached through the 
influence of Sunday School work, wherein upwards of two hundred thousand 
teachers and officers give instruction. It is thought by many that the Negro's 
presence in this country would be intolerable under the present difficult racial 
feelings were it not for the restraining influences of the Christian religion in 
its teaching of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. 

In his economic life through the several phases of his industrial activities, he 
is more than meeting the high expectation of his devout friends. In his many 
occupations, ranging from the most menial to that of the highest professional 

8 



class, over four million of his race are engaged. In all of these with the ex- 
ception of three or four his proportionate gain in the past decade has been 
greater than his relative increase in population, thus disproving the malicious 
charge that he is lazy and is being displaced as a factor in the economic life of 
this nation. His acquisition in both pergonal and real property has been as- 
tonishing. He owns or operates eighty thousand farms containing upwards of 
fifty million acres or sixty-five thousand square miles, an area larger than tin- 
State of Georgia or the combined New England States. The total valuation of 
property on these farms including buildings, implements and live stock amounts 
to over six hundred million dollars. The gross value of all products from these 
farms is four hundred million dollars annually. It is therefore safe to say the 
American Negro is the owner of real and personal property to the extent ol 
eight hundred million dollars. An analysis of the Federal census just complet- 
ed discloses the fact that with all his getting the Negro is getting land at a 
remarkable and astonishing rate. President Branson! of the Georgia White 
State Normal, in one of his very able contributions to a Southern Farm .Jour- 
nal, makes a very significant statement relative to the comparative ownership 
of land in that State by the two races. He sounds a note of warning to the 
whites that the Negro is taking greater advantages of this economic day of 
grace and is acquiring at an astonishing rate the ownership of the soil in that 
Commonwealth. He points out that fully 50 per cent, of Southern white farmers 
are of the non-owning tenant class; that only in three Southern States have they in- 
creased in ownership of land in proportion to their relative increase in popula- 
tion. While the Negro's showing has been the reverse. The Negro has main- 
tained in every Southern State except Florida, Texas and Louisiana a greater 
increase of land ownership than his increase in population. Surprising as is 
this disclosure, more startling is that part of President Branson's admission that 
although the whites have increased their ownership of farms in the State of 
Georgia by only seven per cent, in the past decade, the Negro has increased his 
by fully thirty-eight per cent, in the same time. His acquisition of the soil in 
Georgia during the past ten years has not only been five and a half times faster 
proportionately than the whites, but he has accumulated in that State in that 
short period almost two-fifths of all his realty since the war. The census gave 
to the South a greater increase in land valuation than any other section of 
this country— an increase for the past decade of over one hundred per cent. 
In view of this it is needless to say that the Negro is not only shining in the 
economic advancement of the South, but he must ultimately become a potent 
factor in all that appertains to her civic regeneration. 

Not only has the Negro been successful in the accumulation of real es- 
tate but in nearly every avenue of life we find some of them engaged. In almost 
every town and city in this country we find at least, one or more making rapid 
progress in the business world. In 1900 Booker Washington effected the or- 
ganization of the Negro Business League and through this League we have 
learned much of the Negro business man. It was learned that the Negro has for- 
ty-seven banks scattered from Virginia to Oklahoma, all doing a successful busi- 
ness. The Negro can boast of a stock broker in New York who has a Wall 
Street office and a respectable clientage. At Mound Bayou, Mississippi, there is 
an exclusive Negro town with its Mayor, Council and police officers all of the 
Negro race — thus foreshadowing the probable success of the Negro under his 
own leadership. 

We therefore see what the Negro is doing for himself through educational, 
religious and economic forces working within, to measure up to. that high stand- 
ard of citizenship guaranteed him by the Constitution. The rapid progress he 



lias made in the past three hundred years, from barbarism and paganism to the 
possession of the highest degree of political and civic rights in the gift of a 
free people, is unparalleled in history. As rapid as has been his progress in the 
past, made possible by our democratic form of government, the future holds be- 
fore him a progress which will sink that of they past into insignificance. This 
country because of its free institutions has become a haven to oppressed people 
the world over. Prom all quarters of the globe they come yearly to our shores 
a, million strong. This infusion of new blood and the digesting and assimila- 
tion of new ideas, together with the Wonderful natural resources of this coun- 
try have made it the richest and greatest on earth. The lightning changes at- 
tending this marvelous progress of economic development through racial admix- 
ture contributed largely to the shattering of those social traditions so produc- 
tive of caste prejudice elsewhere. To these influences more than anything else. 
is due the fact that the American people are free from the conventionalities 
which obtain throughout the world in limiting the hopes and aspirations of the 
individual to the class in which he happens to be born. The greatest positions 
of trust in this country have been won by those born in poverty, and while 
the Negro has not shared to the extent of his white fellow citizen in these en- 
joyments he has, nevertheless, reached posts of honor and trust, here, unattained 
elsewhere. He has been honored with seats in the upper and lower houses of 
our Congress and today is one of the highest legal officers in the Federal Gov- 
ernment. He is patiently biding his time and through the several forces oper- 
ating both within and without he will yet reach the point in his social, moral 
and economic worth to demand and receive the full share of the legacies of con- 
stitutional liberty bequeathed by the fathers. The stars in their course may 
fight against him, but his triumph is inevitable. 




'£&